Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, April 9, 2012

What my startup did last semester: TechArb Spring Showcase

In one of the largest entrepreneurial events of the year on U-M’s campus, more than 50 student-founded startups will pitch their ideas to potential investors and report on their progress at the TechArb Spring Showcase.


TechArb spring showcase

• 5:30-7 p.m. April 13 at TechArb, 500 E Washington St., Suite 10 downtown Ann Arbor
Map and directions

The event on April 13 will highlight the record 23 companies that shared space in the TechArb accelerator this session. Each of those will give a one-slide update. Companies that participated in other entrepreneurial classes and competitions at U-M this year will present posters and demonstrate their products. That includes select startups from the Clean Energy Venture Challenge, the Dare to Dream program, the Michigan Business Challenge and an entrepreneurship practicum course.

  The view through the window at TechArb, where School of Information master’s student and co-founder Nick Fassler exchanges ideas with Lawrence Han and Javier Rivera, Erb Institute master’s students and co-founders of EV Station. (Photo by Moses Lee)

“This is a time to celebrate entrepreneurship across the university’s campus, and to showcase all of this energy to the entire innovation ecosystem in southeast Michigan and beyond,” says Moses Lee, assistant director of student ventures at the College of Engineering Center for Entrepreneurship. The center is a TechArb sponsor along with the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

With the help of the incubator’s mentorship, many of the student startups made significant progress in recent months. Here are just a few examples of their achievements and plans:

• The Beet Box healthy fast food cart has a spot in the popular eatery courtyard Mark’s Carts in Ann Arbor. The team plans to partner with other wellness-oriented businesses to make a positive impact on their customers and in the community this summer.

• DIIME, which stands for Design Innovations for Infants and Mothers Everywhere, tested its Hemafuse blood transfusion device at the blood bank of the U-M hospital. DIIME is developing a syringe-style device designed to replace the current "soup ladle" method of blood transfusion used during pregnancy complications in Ghana. At the end of April, the company is moving to the Ann Arbor SPARK East business accelerator in Ypsilanti. And in May, the team will travel to Ghana on a market research mission, says DIIME co-founder Gillian Henker, a recent mechanical engineering graduate.

• Fetchnotes’ beta version notetaking system for the web and cell phones attracted a user base of more than 3,300. The company will launch a public version on April 13, says co-founder Alex Schiff, a business administration junior who is working on this venture with students in informatics, and computer science and engineering.

• Brio Device is prototyping a medical device that will make it easier for EMTs and paramedics to insert a breathing tube into patient's windpipe in emergencies. The company is now working with a U-M computer science professor to develop a guidance system in the device that will recognize the precise geography of the throat and provide a visual pathway, says CEO Hannah Hensel, a recent Ross School of Business MBA grad and Medical Innovation Center fellow.

• Torch Hybrid Marine finalized its hybrid boat design concept and proved customer demand.

“TechArb truly accelerated our venture from the most basic idea in September — lets make hybrid boats — all the way to validating the market need for fuel saving technology, coming up with an innovative design solution, and creating the industry contacts and mentors necessary to bring a product to market,” says Torch Hybrid Marine co-founder Justin D’Atri, a master’s student studying sustainable systems in the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

TechArb officials will announce which teams won space for next session, the incubator’s eighth. These new companies will bring the total number of ventures nurtured to more than 100 since TechArb opened in 2008.

“The TechArb showcase provides a great opportunity for students to show off the hard work they have put into developing their business ventures over the last several months,” says Tim Faley, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “In addition to the funding awarded to participating teams that enter into the many business plan competitions and apply for venture shaping and Dare to Dream startup grants, the showcase is a good way to introduce angel and venture capital investors to emerging businesses.”